- The Washington Times - Monday, March 4, 2002

Nine of the 19 hijackers involved in the September 11 attacks had been singled out for increased scrutiny but still were allowed to board the planes that later smashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.
A government official confirmed that six hijackers had been flagged by a computerized airline passenger profiling system. Two others were singled out because of questions about their identification, and a third because he was traveling with one of the two, said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Under the security procedures in place at the time, passengers flagged for greater scrutiny would have their checked luggage subjected to further inspection for explosives, either by hand or by machine. The passengers and their carry-on bags already are screened for weapons.
The hijackers used box cutters and knives to take control of the aircraft, items that were allowed to be carried on board before the attacks.
The security measures were put in place to prevent airline bombings such as the Pan Am Flight 103 explosion in December 1988. Federal aviation officials did not anticipate suicide terrorists turning commercial airliners into weapons. Airline crews were taught to cooperate with hijackers as the best way to ensure that a plane lands safely.
"Clearly the system failed even worse than is generally known," said Paul Hudson, who lost his daughter in the 1988 bombing and now runs the Aviation Consumer Action Project, an advocacy group affiliated with former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader. "There should be no reason to place high confidence in it again."
The searches were first reported by The Washington Post.
The computerized profiling system has since been modified to single out more passengers for extra scrutiny.
In addition, airlines are now checking the names of passengers against government lists of potential terrorists, sometimes with software offering alternative spellings of Arabic names to prevent people from evading detection by using different spellings.
Airline security officials did not know on September 11 that two of the hijackers were on an FBI watch list of potential terrorists.
A group of relatives of some of victims of the attacks, which killed more than 3,000 people, has called for an investigation of airline security on that day, a request echoed by Mr. Hudson.
"This showed why we need a full independent investigation of what happened" on September 11, Mr. Hudson said. "We haven't heard the whole story."

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